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  • How it all started

    Following the devastation left in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, a group of New York based artists were inspired to help the youth of New Orleans. Led by writer James Lecesne, the group traveled to New Orleans to see what they could do.

    On the second day there, they discovered St. Mark’s Community Center. Situated on the edge of the historic French Quarter, like most of New Orleans the center had been hit hard and was forced to close after the storm. The challenge now was to reopen its doors. Funds were raised to turn on the electricity, make structural repairs and bring back the staff. The center re-opened in August 2006 and the children of St. Mark’s once again had a safe place to meet.

    But the work did not stop there. St. Mark’s needed more than money to get it back on its feet, it needed care and attention. The children needed to feel part of a community and an enterprise that was larger than themselves in order to once again find meaning in their lives. The New York crew came up with the idea of having the kids of New Orleans put on a performance of the Tony-nominated musical, Once On This Island. Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty, writers of the musical, immediately jumped on board, generously offering their rights to the musical and support of the project. Meanwhile filmmaker Hilla Medalia began documenting the cathartic six-week rehearsal process.